The second-largest brokerage in the Kansas City, Mo., area has stopped syndicating its approximately 1,200 listings to third-party real estate search portals Trulia and Zillow.
Both brokerages had expressed concerns about data accuracy and the advertisements and lead forms for competing agents that sometimes appear next to listings on national listing sites. Austin-based brokerage The GoodLife Team pulled its listings and ads from Trulia in early May.
David Cooper, president and CEO of Prudential Kansas City Realty, announced the 430-agent firm’s decision in a video posted May 11.
"At Prudential Kansas City Realty, we continually evaluate the approach we take to market our homes and we insist that any marketing tool we use produce strong results," Cooper said.
"After years of monitoring the effectiveness of third-party listing syndication websites, we continue to arrive at the same conclusion. Neither you, the home seller, nor the potential homebuyer, is well-served by these third-party sites. Effective immediately, Prudential Kansas City Realty will stop sending our listings to third-party syndication websites Trulia and Zillow."
Many of the homes shown on third-party sites are already sold, mispriced, under contract or no longer on the market, making for a poor experience for buyers and sellers, Cooper said.
"It’s become all-too-familiar that buyers are bringing our agents ‘listings’ from these third-party sites. Our agents then spend valuable time researching the properties, only to find that many aren’t even available for purchase. It’s very frustrating, both to our agents and to the buyers," Cooper told Inman News.
"Buyers take the information they see on the Web at face value and are incredibly disappointed when our agents tell them the truth. Sellers are tired of seeing inaccurate and misleading information about their homes posted online indefinitely and frustrated when their agent can’t fix it.
"It’s practices like these that not only frustrate buyers and sellers, but it reflects poorly on our sales professionals, our company and the entire real estate industry. We weren’t using these sites a few years ago — what have we gained? Nothing."
The brokerage has stopped sending its listings to other third-party listings sites as well, with the exception of Realtor.com, said brokerage spokeswoman Dena Nash.
"Currently, our (multiple listing service) automatically sends all of Kansas City’s listings to Realtor.com. It will be changing to allow agents to choose whether their listings will be sent to Realtor.com," she said.
Nash acknowledged that the brokerage’s agents will be able to send their listings directly to third-party syndicators if they choose, but added, "Our agents are well aware of the issues with listing syndication and are behind us in this decision."
Some brokers and agents who specialize in representing buyers have suggested that brokerages that stop syndicating listings to third-party sites are hoping to increase the number of transactions where their agents are representing both sides of the deal, a practice known as double-ending.
In response to the brokerage’s decision, Zillow spokeswoman Cynthia Nowak said, "The real losers in this situation are home sellers, and the agents who represent them."
"Sellers hire a brokerage to market and sell their homes, a big part of which is marketing the homes to the broadest audience possible," Nowak said.
"If a brokerage isn’t marketing a listing on Zillow, it isn’t seen across the largest real estate network in the country as well as the Kansas City market, or across the most popular platform of mobile real estate apps. In April, more than 32 million unique users visited Zillow’s mobile apps and websites.
"Prudential Kansas City hasn’t contacted Zillow about this decision, but we feel open dialogue is best and would welcome a conversation."
According to comScore data provided by Nowak, the Yahoo-Zillow Real Estate Network had the highest number of unique visitors in the real estate category in the Kansas City area in April, followed by Trulia and then Move Inc., which operates Realtor.com.
Trulia recently announced it would revamp some of its marketing offerings for real estate professionals to focus on the interests of brokers, including improved data accuracy on its site and clear identification of listing agents and brokers.
Prudential Kansas City Realty was second only to HomeServices of America subsidiary Reece and Nichols in both transaction sides and sales volume in the Kansas City market last year, according to Real Trends.
According to statistics compiled by Real Trends, Prudential Kansas City Realty was the 122nd-largest brokerage in the country by transaction sides in 2011. The firm closed nearly $790 million in sales volume last year.